While I lived in Kosovo I made a few trips to Camp Bondsteel to shop and each time the trip was memorable. The signs in general appear to be recommendations at best and the entire trip was a competition between the drivers for space and position on the road. I heard everyone has to take a driver’s test in order to obtain a license and drive but I’m not sure how thorough it could be. I mean that in a humorous way but seriously, the people are crazy drivers. Not just on the major highways but everywhere, it is a contest the entire trip. At least it made the drive interesting though.
When I use the term Highway it does not have the same meaning as it does in the west. The major roads are two lanes and at some point they have been paved but not seriously maintained. As you drive along you can see people standing along the road and it turns out these spots are bus stops the locals are aware of or they are waiting for a ride. There are on occasion a sign or two but for the most part only the locals are aware of their existence, or so it seems.
I think I mentioned that the there are a multitude of structures that are partially built all along the route and I explained this on another page. I was just amazed at the sheer number and there appear to be people living in the part that was habitable. They are exceptional at making due with what is available.
I did stop at a few places along the way, at least the places that bore a resemblance to western style gas stations, department and grocery stores or rest stops. Many of the places are new, resemble western standards and are filled with goods. The people working in the stores are friendly and helpful and I enjoyed browsing them.
Back to the drivers though. I can remember more than one occasion where it was a race for position or someone would come out of nowhere and literally blow by me on the shoulder of the road. I am amazed I didn’t see more accidents but even though the whole traffic activity seems to be haphazard and dangerous everything works out somehow. The only trouble spot if I had to pick on was coming back to Pristina from the south as there are multiple traffic circles. Interestingly enough the locals all fight their way into the circle and create gridlock rather than using it according to the intended purpose. Now when you combine circles in close proximity to one another as you have in Pristina it is a traffic jam if biblical proportions. Everyone seems to take it in stride though as I don’t recall seeing anyone overly upset at any time.
Each trip was exhilarating due to the lack of traffic control and basically no speed limit or the limit being what you could get away with. Occasionally I would see a police car running a speed trap but there didn’t seem to be any real effort to stop anyone other than the most egregious violators.
If you ever get the chance, drive in Kosovo as it is illuminating to say the least.
I have lots of pictures of the trips I took between Film City and Camp Bondsteel and here they are